Jonathan Thurston is the Head of Accessibility Product Management for Pearson where he is responsible for the execution of Pearson’s Global Product accessibility initiative and overall management of their higher education accessibility requirements and standards. His past experience includes managing the e-book and accessibility programs for several large publishing houses in addition to teaching design and digital media for different universities and working as an interactive designer with numerous agencies. Born in the Bay Area, he currently lives in the greater NYC area with his wife and growing family.
Let’s cut to the chase: Accommodation for the access needs of all students with disabilities can be challenging. Talk to anyone who works in an accessibility support services capacity and they will share stories of difficulties encountered in creating equally effective opportunities within the classroom. You might hear stories of chopping the spines off textbooks so the hundreds of paper pages can be digitized with optical character recognition. Or maybe how they had to cut a book into sections to mail off to different companies for braille conversion only to get them back weeks later at high expense. Perhaps they might mention the extensive work involved to remediate PDF files (originally designed for printing) with navigable tagging and structure. This all represents time and resources better spent with the learner, and our customers understand this.
With an increasing call for education products that are born accessible, Pearson has set the foundation to transform our product creation into one that embraces accessibility from beginning to end. Easing the burden of access and allowing every learner an equal opportunity is our mutual goal and is the heart of every customer partnership.
Disability Support Services will often request electronic files from publishers or the Access Text Network. These files often need heavy remediation, depending on the learner needs. Delays in delivery can cause delays to access, rushed work, additional frustration, and extensive expenditure of resources.
Imagine if we could cut some of the steps and red tape out of this process. We are listening to our customers and collaborating with many of their partners to eliminate traditional hurdles. Forging cutting edge partnerships is part of our plan to allow as many learners (with different styles and tool preferences) access to our products as possible.
Here are three such examples of Pearson partnerships designed to make things easier.
Learners can now purchase directly from our Pearson Accessibility Bookstore where they can find a growing collection of Higher Education titles. This library is loaded with titles that have been structured, described, and verified with accessibility in mind.
The EPUB (electronic publication) format is designed to be accessible. EPUB is used by most mainstream publishers and can provide sought-after functionality when rendered with a verified accessible reader. Extensive testing has proven that the VitalSource Bookshelf reader closely aligns with WCAG AA standards, which makes VitalSource an ideal and appropriate partner. VitalSource titles are loaded with Accessibility 1.0 metadata, making them highly searchable. Visit our accessibility store and browse our current selections: pearson-accessible-store.vitalsource.com
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